Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Biltmore Estate

As I mentioned yesterday with my downtown abbey inspired bunting, I would be sharing the real life downton home in the state of North Carolina on our road trip that I have slowly been sharing.

We drove into the Biltmore Estate later in the afternoon and were honestly just going to try to look at the grounds and the outside of the house. We were stopped at the gate and told that you cannot even get to the house or winery without a ticket. The entire road around the house is more than 11 miles. That is just on the estate. It is 4 miles between the house and the winery/restaurant area they call antler village.

It worked out in our favour that we were a little later in the day as buying our ticket after the house closed allowed us to wander around the grounds and take photos of the garden, go to antler village and come back the next morning to do the tour of the house. We were headed home the next day for our 11 hour drive home and didn't want to be hanging around Asheville for too too long.

I am sharing some of our photos today and a little bit we learned about this truly fascinating estate. Driving through after the house closed also made the grounds quiet. Quiet like they would have been when you were living there as the hundreds of tourists had gone home for the day. There is something to be said for not always being the early worm, which we definitely are not.

words cannot describe how large this house is when you drive up. figuring in that i was standing on top of a bridge of sorts and to get to the front of the house was probably a 5 minute walk. the bus sitting out front gives you an idea for comparison. the poplar trees on either side were planted in 1895.

This house was the plan of George Vanderbilt. The construction of this home began in 1889 and the house was opened to his family on Christmas Eve of 1895.
The home is 4 acres of living space, no measly square footage measurements here.
There are 35 bedroom of which we saw 7 or 8, 43 bathrooms of which we saw 4, and 65 fireplaces.
When doing the tour inside they are extremely strict and absolutely no sneaking photos of any sort. There are roped walkways you share with hundreds of other people for the day and cleaning people at every turn.

a little fact about me. i used to be and in some way still am obsessed with gargoyles. this house had too many to count and i cannot even imagine the detail that would have went into crafting them out of stone with little machinery. almost made me want to revisit my collection that creeped out so many people. 

George Vanderbilt only lived to the age of 51 dying in 1914 and the family only primarily owned this home before opening it to tours until 1930 to help offset costs of running the estate in the depression. The descendants of George Vanderbilt still own this home and the running of the estate.

the gardens around the estate are exceptional. seriously i could have walked them for days and if i lived close enough would have a yearly pass to do just that.
the concept of forestry and protecting/owning areas of land for preservation was an idea born at the biltmore estate by the original landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead who's other credits include Central park in NYC

there were fountains everywhere with so much detail.
my handsome chauffeur of vintage road tripping and general partner in crime

these bronze turtles were massive. i was going to get in the empty fountain but chickened out at the last minute in fear of armed men on horse taking me away

espalier trees everywhere. oh how i would love to try to grow one

the plant conservatory

walking through these covered pathways of grapes just made me think, my god this would be gorgeous in the winter with ice and snow

The following 4 photos are from the same source as the construction photo and just give a small idea of the inside of the home. For today's interior design enthusiasts the house is gaudy and ostentatious but oh how you just cannot believe the detail and workmanship in this home. The gold wallpaper in Mr. Vanderbilt's bedroom, the gigantic indoor swimming pool with original underwater lights, the original tapestries that line the wall and the kitchen with original set of copper pots.

So many of the details like the lighting are something that you do see now being recreated in stores like restoration hardware. it is amazing to see the real thing and in it's original form. the entire home feels dark as they keep the feel that one would have had walking through this home in the 1900's. i cannot imagine having to conduct daily life in a home of this size but then life just wasn't the same as it is now and receiving guests was your job and as host/ess it was a job you needed to do exceptionally well.

a waterfall on the 4 mile drive to the winery. the winery was started in the 70s on the estate and the new antler village which includes restaurants and an inn has been open since 2010. of course all good things become commercial but it was well done and didn't feel like you went from history to a mall

and nature is just everywhere when your estate is thousands of acres.

Hope you enjoyed your small tour, we did.

Have a great day,


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Adding some bunting

I am always thinking of new ideas for my future non-existent store or the next show and what I can add, change, make to spruce up my display etc.

I love bunting. I really love the white plain style. I am a big fan of Downton Abbey along with many of you I am sure. I love the large parties they throw and the decorations that are shown of that time. Now while I am planning to show you the real life Downton Abbey home we visited on our trip tomorrow I thought I would share some of the inspired decorations I made.

I bought some twill tape at our local fabric store, chopped up a bunch of white linen triangles and got to sewing. I obviously don't have anywhere to hang them for retail purposes right now so I decided to add them to the spare bedroom for fun, and then of course busted out the camera and took some photos, after I tripped and fell into the wall from being lazy and using the wrong stool to hang the bunting.

it is also that time of year when i have to bring my plant hoard into the house. this room is cool enough in the winter to not suffocate my plants but gets a lot of light so many of my plants get to laze away their days now reaching for the bunting.

I am starting to debate paint colours for this room. It was painted when we first moved in 5 years ago and always comes off as a purple beige in the afternoon light. The floor is white and I love it so the walls are going to be a plaster grey colour me thinks.

Have a great hump day all,


Friday, October 17, 2014

Nashville, Asheville and the loot

TGIF everyone right?

How about some more trip shop talk

Get your carts ready.
I'm chatty again today.

 From Ohio where we left you last Trevor and I headed to Nashville, TN. I have wanted to discover that town for awhile and let me tell you it was completely NOT what we were expecting. I guess I had a Toronto/Las Vegas thing in my head and it is not like that. It is a very low key place seeming to grow into its name. There are a lot of areas being rebuilt and up and coming. We found the people to be extremely friendly if not a little bit secretive about their town. Every time we asked what there was to do, where should we go etc… we were basically given the run around lol.
The response was always along the lines of there is lots to do but you kind of have to discover it. No kidding it took a day just to find the downtown. I was armed with my tour nashville pinterest posts, the around nashville on design sponge but being Canadian can only check those on my cell phone sparingly without wifi as data is $$$ for cross border plans in the states.

We did not find antiquing in the entire state of Tennesse to be worthwhile for us. Don't get me wrong lots of places to shop, lots of wonderfully merchandised stores just 4 times the price of home. We came home from the entire state of Tennesse with a rooster whirligig and a pair of baby shoes. Not good for loading the truck.

We spent almost an entire day touring around Franklin, TN which is a small tourist town just 25 minutes from Nashville and ate the most delightful sandwich I have ever eaten at Puckett's Grocery. Had I not been so busy stuffing my face, I may have gotten a photo of the inside of this place. It really is a grocery store as well with mismatched tables and chairs and charm. WE loved it. Fried eggs on sandwiches is brilliant!
Sadly one of the stores I wanted to go to The Iron Gate was closed as it was Sunday but thats a chance you take when road tripping.
We did get to go to Scarlett Scales antiques. I have seen their booth many times at the Country Living fairs so was excited to see the physical store. it was gorgeous, well done, reasonably priced with the perfect blend of antique, vintage and new decor.
We hit up a lot of other antique stores/malls as well but none we were particularly jazzed about some down right disappointing but again new area and we were just happy having a good time.

After walking around aimlessly, buying Franklin a toy in Franklin we aptly named Norbert the elephant and eating some frozen yogurt, we scooted down the road to Leiper's Fork which is the town you read about in all the country living/flea market magazines. The few stores there again drop dead gorgeous especially Serenite Maison.
I took a few photos with my phone that don't truly do it justice but you get the idea.

Drop dead gorgeous but again eichy mama on the prices. I did see some of the long coveted ironstone pedestals that are impossible to find but alas at 300 buck a pop they will remain in Tennesse.

We spent the next night hanging out in Nashville, bar hopping and eating together. We had a great night and listened to some great music. We generally skip the karaoke bars as that is neither of our thing but you can definitely see the music draw in the old and new bars down there.

What trip to Nashville for an antique hound would be complete without a stop into the new American Pickers facility. No they weren't there but all their stuff was. It was great to see some of the stuff from the show in place. A lot of Mike's personal collection is on display and the history of the warehouse that they are in is awesome.
I think a lot of people are expecting it to be more of an antique store they can shop in but what you see on tv is not a lie. The items are very one of a kind, command those prices but if there is something unique you are looking for they may just have it.
We personally helped the merchandising department with a few shirts and stickers. I was satisfied.

Next stop North Carolina!

We returned to a town we drove through on our last road trip and decided to spend a bit more time there this visit. Have you ever been to Asheville. Next to Boston it is my favourite town so far. It had the perfect blend of big and small town, foodie and vintage with enough to do for everyone. Lunch idea, The Local Taco. Delicious!

We hit some of the same antique places we had been to last time and a few new ones. Again this area is quite secretive so you really need to lean on people to get information about other shops. We were in one antique mall asking if there are any others and they asked us about antique row, yes we've been there, well there isn't really anywhere else.
5 minutes down the road there were 3 more places equally as large. 
Coming from an area that promotes each other faithfully in the antique business I found the secrecy odd. Around Niagara all the shops carry each others information, send you down the road, they want to keep you around. In the south everyone seems to want you to figure it out yourself even if a few places go out of business along the way.
You really need shoppers determination.

I took some photos in this antique mall/store as it turned out to be pretty great. We were unsure of what to expect as from the outside it looked like an old elementary school but inside it was all vintage goodness.

there was something about this sculpture. although yes creepy, look how nice the birds look on top. eating the baby's brain yes but still it had something about it.

the traditional shop cat on his throne. cute by day yes, hunter by night.

Now we did do a bit more in Asheville and I also had my first experience with FATZ restaurant dinner rolls. You need to keep those things down there as I might gain 100 lbs if they come any closer. But since the next post has not much to do with shopping I thought I would share what came home with us.
Keep in mind if you are emailing me because you love something and must have it, all of this stock saw the show recently so much of it is gone but, you can always ask.

Well if you made it to the end, congratulations because that was a long one.

Have a great weekend everyone.

The Biltmore Estate is up next